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My glut crop this week is coriander seed. So easy to harvest this time of year.  I just let the seed fully mature on the plant, then rub the seed off into a baking tray, leave it on the verandah for a few days to get really dry, then winnow it by blowing all the chaff off.  The seed is then ready to store in a jar on my kitchen shelves, for using in preserves, dhall and curries.  Little jars of dried herbs or spices like this could be really easily prettied up to make good gifts, and since  so many of the spices sold in Australia are imported , it’s worth doing.

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peas

My glut crop this week is peas, and they are only a glut crop because my kids are grown up.   For years, all through pea season, a whole gang of kids would arrive after school and feast on peas straight from the vine. The cry of “two hands, use two hands to pick” is still a family joke.

These are Willow, or Sommerwood peas, seeds a gift from Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. They’ve done well enough for me to save some seed for next year, but they haven’t stolen my heart.  I like tall climbing peas, since I have to fortress fence my garden beds against everything from brush turkeys to bobuck possums, so I need to use the vertical space productively.  And these are only about 80 cm tall.

I’ve had a few favourite varieties over the years.  Telephone is still my favourite of the tall climbers, though it is a bit prone to powdery mildew if we get a warmer and wetter than usual winter.  In all the years of open, unfenced gardens, I swore by Greenfeast.  They’re a dwarf variety that bears really prolifically, peas so sweet that I very rarely got any to cook.

One of the minor benefits of being between parent and grandparent generation – I get to eat peas.  But I still can’t  think of any better way of dealing with a glut of peas than a gang of kids.

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cauli

My glut crop at the moment is cauliflower, and though I’ve seen the odd white cabbage moth flutter through, they’re not getting got yet.  My very favourite recipe for using lots of cauliflower is Greek Crumbed Cauli (kounoupith tiganito). It’s a conversion recipe.  If you have kids (or adults) who are not sure they like cruciferous vegetables, this will change their mind – which is a good thing because this family (cauli, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage) are important.  They have phytochemicals  that are really really good at getting rid of misbehaving cells before they cause havoc.

A platter of crumbed cauli and a glass of wine on a Friday night and life is good.

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first strawberry

A few days ago….

And today….strawberries

And nobody else knows about them yet, so they were all mine.

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broccoli

My glut crop at the moment is broccoli. I was a bit late planting it this year, so the first round of the big major heads are all coming together now.  Usually it’s a few weeks earlier.  I don’t usually plant broccoli until the threat of cabbage moth decimation is over – seeds in in mid autumn, transplanted into pots in late autumn, then keep an eye on them in the shadehouse for a month or so until the cabbage moths have really gone in early winter.  Even if it was worth the effort of trying to plant earlier and battle the cabbage moths, I know that four months of broccoli glut from late July through to November will be quite enough thank you without trying to extend the season.

The heads are the unopened, immature flower head and the plant will keep trying to flower and set seed till its last breath now. After I cut the main heads, they will bear side shoots for several months if I keep cutting them and prevent them flowering.  The next round of main heads will come on and there will be broccoli at every meal. If they do flower, the flowers are gorgeous in salads – sweet and mustardy and adding a lovely splash of colour.  But for the moment, the mission is keeping up with the broccoli.  Cheesy broccoli omelettes for breakfast (my geriatric chooks only lay for a few months of the year, but they’ve decided it’s near enough to spring to start too), and broccoli with hollandaise for dinner.  Raw broccoli in salads and lightly steamed broccoli with sesame oil, lemon juice and toasted sesame seeds in the lunch box.  Broccoli in noodle stir fries, and in pasta. And a broccoli based party dish I’m perfecting.

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a shirt full of citrusI love citrus season here.  I just went up, in my slippers, to check the top tank, and the lime tree was dropping fruit, and the less favoured mandarin tree was loaded with mandarins that are small and thin skinned but sooo sweet, and then I passed the lemon tree, and the kumquat, and then the grapefruit.  By the time I got down to the house again, my shirt was full of citrus. I’m feeling a batch of Lime Syrup coming on, and maybe some Lime Pickles too.

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in season in February

My pickings today loaded up my kitchen bench.  Mangoes are biennial, and this is a mango year, so I’ve been making smoothies and cakes and pickles and chutney and sorbet, and giving lots away.  The spring this year was wet enough for the pomegranates to fruit well – often our springs are too dry – and the tamarillos are all ripening at once.  I’m back to growing enough tomatoes to bottle some, the snake beans and green and purple and Madagascar beans are all bearing enough for both eating green and letting mature for the bean jars, and the  chilis and capsicums have all started to ripen at once.  The tromboncino dropped fruit in the heat wave early in the new year, but the rain since has brought them all back into glut again, and the Suyo Long cucumbers are bearing well enough to become a favourite variety.  I’m making pesto from sweet basil, and I have lots of lemon, lime and Thai basil too. Feels like such luxury to have such glorious abundance. Now I just need to decide how to deal with it all!

As well as all the glut crops, we are picking the first of the figs, passionfruit, and carambolas and the last of the paw paws, and the occasional Jackfruit (which can make a glut just with one fruit).  Our peaches are finished, but stonefruit are still well in season in many places.  The geese have decided they like eating banana palms, which would be an issue except that the wild brush turkeys have been getting all the  bananas for years. If we were shorter on fruit I’d need to do something about that, but I’ve run out of good ideas to try.  I figure I’m just fattening up the brush turkeys as security in case of real famine times!

I still have a few zucchinis planted and bearing but the tromboncinos are good competition for them.  The yellow button squash make a nice change sometimes.  The next patch of  sweet corn is just about ready. We’re between pumpkins – the potkins are finished and the Japs about to come on. I’ve had better success with eggplants this year than usual.  There’s the usual carrots and beets, and as usual the greens are scarce this time of year.

My ginger and turmeric love the heat and rain this time of year.  I have both as perennial plots – I just dig some when I want it – but this time of year the plants are growing like crazy.

So this is the harvest around which I base my cooking this time of year.  I’d love to hear what’s harvesting in other places.

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red and gold

I love this time of year, when everything I harvest is the most magnificent colour.  I ate the first of many mangoes for the season today. Mangoes  are biennial but not every second year is good.  It’s a complex mix of rain and heat at the right time that makes this kind of luck.  We still have  paw paws  though it is getting to the end of their season, but our seedling peaches are on now and only for a couple of weeks. The  grapes are hanging thick and purple (good mango years also tend to be good grape years).  Our lychees are just starting to colour, and the pomegranates are great big heavy jewel filled globes. There are also figs coming on, still green yet but one to look forward to.  My daughter’s very favourite fruit in the world is tamarillos so we’re picking a bucket full to take over for Christmas with her.  We even have some golden bananas despite the best efforts of turkeys and geese.

This is turning into a really good tomato year too.  I have yellow cherry and yellow pear, red grape and red pear, brandywine and principe borghese all bearing, and a tiny red tomato that I don’t remember planting, fruiting in trusses of lolly-sweet jewels.  The Corno de Toro and banana and supermarket flat  capsicums  and a variety of chilis and peppers at various heats are all starting to bear well.  The zucchinis and all their relatives are in glut – tromboncino  and squash and this year potkin pumpkins.  I don’t usually get pumpkin till a bit later, so I am really enjoying these early ones.  I’m getting better at cucumbers these days – just enough for raita or tzatziki as a side dish for most meals and not so many that the chooks are sick of them!

And I am very proud of my eggplants this year.  Flea beetles are one of my troublesome pests and they’re around this year, but the predators seem to be just about keeping up with them.   We have harvested the first round of sweet corn and the second is about to be ready.  There are more beans than we can eat green and the  bean jars are starting to fill with dried beans for storage.  The Rattlesnakes have been the champions up till now but the snake beans are just seriously starting to bear now.

My ginger and turmeric and galangal struggle though our normally dry spring but come into their own now the thunderstorm season has started. They love the heat and rain. There are all the usual carrots and beets.

A table laden with red and gold for this season of feasts.  Happy solstice, and have a wonderful Christmas filled with love and joy and good things to eat.

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The paw paws have been prolific this year.  We’re eating one a day most days, but they’re starting to slow down from now on.  The strawberries weren’t as good this year as last year, mostly because I got too busy in winter to plant out a new bed or mulch up and compost the old one, so they were a bit neglected and they paid out on me for it.  But this year looks like being another bumper year, like 2010, for mangoes. The trees are so laden, I’m thinking about green mango recipes. Our grape vines are also laden.

I live too far north and low for good stone fruits – we get some from a thick skinned seedling peach tree, but I’ve cut out most of the stone fruit. It’s just more work than a good permaculturist can justify to keep the fruit fly off.  But we do get some at the local Farmer’s Market coming from the northern Tablelands, which is nearly in my local zone as the crow flies, just 600 metres or so higher.

Blueberries are also just about to come into season and I’m lucky enough to live in a good blueberry growing region.

As far as vegetables go, it’s already well and truly summer in my garden.  No more brassicas – broccoli, kale, cabbage – but all the curcubits – tromboncino, squash, cucumbers. We’ve had lots of asparagus over the last few months, even having to rescue it regularly from wallabies that will go to extreme lengths for asparagus. But it’s time now to let it grow out. Rocket and flat leaf parsley are the main greens.

I’ve dug all the spring planted spuds now – this is the last of them.  Then no more potatoes until the autumn harvest comes in in May. This year I seem to have beaten the tomato viruses that plagued me year before last.  Last year I went very easy on tomatoes so as to rest most of the beds from them.  And it has worked. I’ve been harvesting Principe Borghese,  Roma, Yellow cherry, yellow pear, and Brandyvine  – a big bowlful every day. Beans are all bearing well. So far it has been mostly Rattlesnakes, bearing continuously and copiously for a couple of months now. But I also now have  Blue Lake and Purple King to choose from, and snake beans very soon.

My garlic is in, not so many as last year, and beetroot, for some reason, are doing well this year.

So that’s what I’m  basing my cooking around at the moment.  I’d love to hear what is in season in your garden.

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